THE Crown Nominations Commission (CNC), which met last week to
choose a new Archbishop of Canterbury, has been unable to agree on
the two names it submits to the Prime Minister. A short statement
put out by the C of E communications department on Friday does not
admit this as such, but this is the only reasonable interpretation
of the phrase: "The work of the Commission continues."
All meetings of the CNC are confidential, and it was a new
departure this time to let it be known that a meeting was taking
place. Church House staff were careful beforehand not to be drawn
on whether this was the CNC's final meeting, with good reason as it
The full statement says:
"This week's meeting of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) has
been accompanied by much speculation about possible candidates and
the likely timing of an announcement of the name of who will
succeed Dr Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury when he steps
down to become Master of Magdalene College.
"The CNC is an elected, prayerful body. Its meetings are
necessarily confidential to enable members to fulfil their
important responsibilities for discerning who should undertake this
major national and international role. Previous official briefings
have indicated that an announcement is expected during the autumn
and that remains the case; the work of the Commission
"There will be no comment on any speculation about candidates or
about the CNC's deliberations. Dr Williams remains in office until
the end of December."
The rules for the CNC state that its 16 voting members must be
two-thirds in favour of each of the two candidates submitted to the
Prime Minister, i.e. the favoured man must secure 11 votes.
The reference in the statement to an autumn announcement indicates
that another meeting will be scheduled soon.
Church House had published a special prayer on Wednesday as the
Crown Nominations Commission met to decide whom to ask the Crown to
nominate as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Commission's members met at a secret location on
Wednesday and Thursday to decide on two names - a preferred
candidate and a back-up one - to recommend to the Prime Minister to
succeed Dr Williams after he steps down at the end of the year (News, 16
Since 2007, the convention has been that the Prime Minister
passes on the name preferred by the Commission to the Queen.
Church House created a Twitter hashtag, #prayforthecnc, to be
used in messages on the social-media site during the meeting.
Church House also published a prayer, which asked God to keep the
CNC's members "steadfast in faith and united in love".
A poll of 2594 adults carried out for BBC Local Radio by ComRes,
published on Wednesday, found that 53 per cent thought that Dr
Williams had been a good leader of the Church. Fifty-five per cent
of the respondents said that he had been clear in telling people
what he believed, but a quarter said that he had not made the
Church relevant to modern Britain.
Responding to the poll, Elizabeth Oldfield, the director of
Theos, a public-theology think tank, said that the public continue
to value the moral and intellectual leadership of the Archbishop of
"Increasingly, the role of the Archbishop should be to ask the
difficult questions. . . He's uniquely placed to make the case that
faith is part of the solution, not part of the problem. If
anything, the next Archbishop ought to be even more political than
Speaking on Channel 4 News on Tuesday, Canon Giles
Fraser, a Church Times columnist, said: "The Archbishop of
Canterbury is someone who sets the tone of a lot of moral debate in
this country, who can make interventions that politicians can't
make - no one has to vote for him; so he's free to do that - and I
think he's still an important part of the moral fabric of this
He described the office of Archbishop as "a worse job" than the
England football manager's, given the "impossible